Letter to the editor: Hunting contest counter-productive

It seems there is no end to the outrage and dangers to which our Vermont wildlife is subjected. The latest is a coyote killing contest being organized in Bristol. For the entry fee of $25, coyotes — every gender, every age, even pups — will be killed in unlimited numbers and under terrifying circumstances for no other reason than that these humans feel like shooting them.
I cannot conceive of anything more sadistic and outrageous than to organize an actual killing contest in our day and age, and yet, this is something that Vermont Fish & Wildlife is happy to allow under the current lack of any legislation regulating the hunting of coyotes.
The contest is cynically called ‘The Wile E. Coyote Hunt’ as if the allusion to a cartoon could do anything to trivialize this cruelty.  Wildlife biologists have long established that coyotes play a tremendously important role in the ecological balance, and are equally important for the public health.
It is a proven fact that by hunting primarily small rodents they help keep the tick population in check and thus prevent the further spread of Lyme disease. That crippling disease is everywhere on the rise, especially where predators like bobcats and coyotes are driven out and killed off. Where people kill off coyotes, one consequence is an explosion in the mice, rat and other rodent population that are hosts to the Lyme disease virus. There is a wealth of information available online on the value of coyotes and their mostly secret, yet wonderful life hidden deep in the woods.
We as educated and modern day Vermonters should not engage in the indiscriminate, cruel and ultimately useless killing of wildlife. The most effective and easiest to do if you want to protect wildlife from persecution and harm is to post your land, and keep hunters and trappers off of it.
It is bad enough that trapping is still legal in Vermont and can be totally indiscriminate and nonstop year-round under the guise of ‘nuisance wildlife management.’ But to make a contest out of wildlife slaughter  is barbaric. These contests send the chilling message that killing is fun, wild animals are disposable, and life is cheap.
I invite you to please stand with us in a peaceful protest on Saturday, Feb. 11 on the Bristol Green from 1-3 p.m. For more information, see the Vermont Coyote Coexistence Coalition Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Vermontcoyotecoexistencecoalition/.
Renate Callahan

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